XCeara - I don't even know how to begin. Probably best from the beginning though. Last time I mentioned that this was to be a cross-country race with the goal being the longest distance flight. This is not just cross-country flight, but mega-flight, and I still can't believe what went on here that week.
From the photographs, it is evident that it is quite windy at the start. Sometimes it's really gusty. Choosing the take-off time is a key issue. Five assistants hold the paraglide and the moment the thermals stand up to the wind at the start and it weakens from 12m/s to 7-8m/s, then the only thing left is to hurl yourself into the distance. After the practice day, when we land at sunset, we pack up the canopies in the dark.
The first racing day is promotional for the sponsors with landing for precision in the nearby Quixada. The next day the attempts at conquering our own limits begin. Unfortunately, right off on Monday, the wind is really hammering, around 15m/s, and the thermals don't have the strength to allow getting in front of the hill. Only Frank Brown is able, around noon, to take off and a while later he disappears on the horizon. Other attempts lead to not too pretty rotor blows, which happens every day. The wind dies down only at 15:00, and that's too late for a long task.
From the morning on Tuesday, it is obvious that TODAY IS THE DAY. I take off before ten, and despite two mistakes due to which I have to take a long time to get from 100m above the hot ground, I fly over six and half an hours across the countryside. I had a declared goal in the village of Poranga, and to photograph it from the sector, I leave the cumulous bases, beneath which it is good to keep towards the end of the day and I lose the valuable 1000m of height. From Poranga I cannot get above 1500m above sea level, and before 17:00, that is still one and half an hours before sunset, I land. Even so, the flight results are fascinating for me - declared flight to goal 215km, and 250km for free distance. I documented the flight in accordance with the rules of F AI and now it just depends on the evaluation, to put me down as official national record for the Czech Republic. That day there are three pilots that get over 300km and I'm a little sorry that I am not among them - thanks to the unusually long interval, it would certainly have been possible. But those two delays. I won't have another opportunity like this any time soon. Frank Brown even flew the longest flight in the world, (337.6km), starting from a hill. We have an incredible chunk of landscape behind us.
I arrive back at the hotel at six in the morning, and after breakfast at 7:30 we head back to the start. During Wednesday's flight under significantly weaker conditions, I make no mistake, I'm just lacking speed and half an hour to get over 200km. I land at 183 kilometers with the sun just slightly above the horizon. This time I return to the hotel at two in the morning, so I can get some sleep. Thursday there is a 1/8, fast dissipating, cloud in the sky and I land prematurely with Frank and other racers at the fortieth kilometer. So I don't forget - I'm supposed to say hello from Frank to Petra Krausova, but I don't have her e-mail address, so I'm doing it here. Even the two Hungarians are doing well, and get over 200km.
Friday looks like another super day and at 10:30 I take off towards another adventure. It is the last day of the race and my attempt at the longest flight and moving from 6th place in the overall placing. I choose a tactic of all or nothing. I successfully overcome two blue holes and run far up ahead. On the 90th kilometer I fly a beautiful 7km/s, which continues to increase so that I'm afraid to look at the variometer, which is beeping like crazy. Then, however, I'm wanting a little luck and by 13:00 I'm landing at 107 kilometers, at the place where I headed to convinced of a sure riser. Dust and everything else rises a half-minute after my landing. Just bad luck and there will be no breaking limits. From the ground I then watch the individual racers as they fly past me with ease. Silver made a good show, leaving some racers behind. He made it past the 40 kilometer syndrome and flying in the zeros for the last several ten kilometers he makes it all the way to the 220th kilometer!!! Thus ends the five-day chase after crossing our own frontiers, I, thanks to my last, below-average flight, stayed in 6th place in the overall placing.
Saturday is the last racing day, which no longer counts for the overall placing. This time it is a race for speed to the not-quite 40km distant Quixenarobin. With the speed of my Avaxe I was able to place the Brazilians in the role of spectators. I prefer cross country racing over speed racing, but what wouldn't anyone give to be able to fly on the last day of November, when all the frozen Europeans are drinking wine from demijohns.
Flying through the dry country of Ceara covered with Caatinga, (aggressive local vegetation), and cactuses has its own specifics and would certainly be a great experience. The people here are very poor, but very friendly and honest souls. Every landing in the middle of nowhere, and the subsequent rescue, was incredibly adventurous and communicating with the locals was beautiful despite the language barrier. From these unexpected meetings with the locals, Silver and I have the most adventures out of the whole week, but that's a story on its own, and deserves a separate article.
And now we get quickly out of the dusty heat and head for the shore below Fortaleza to the village of Canoa Quebrada, known for its beautiful beaches. We don't intend just to wet our feet and bake in the sun, - after a week under the canopies everyone wants to FLY!